“Ughhhhhhhhhh!” Slamming, banging weights. Is that a class using all the mats and balls? Puddles of sweat. Missing weights. And what is that thing in the water fountain? Not the most welcoming environment for working your strength training program!
Both proper form and etiquette are important in the weight room. Proper form needs little explanation; you should ask for direction, research a qualified source, and follow the general recommendations below. But etiquette? It grieves us to even have to use a word like “etiquette,” but given what we see in the weight room every day, it’s necessary.
General recommendations for proper form:
- Exhale during exertion, or the hardest part of the movement.
- Keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent; don’t lock them.
- Never let your knee go past your toes on lunges or squats.
- Never bend knees more than 90°.
- Keep the natural “S” curve of your spine.
- Do not use hip momentum to thrust through moves.
- Do not swing free weights; stop at full extension/contraction.
- Never bend over from the waist with locked knees. Always bend knees and lift with your legs.
- Keep your core muscles engaged for all exercises.
- Avoid behind-the-neck lat pulldowns (pull to top of chest slightly below chin level) and military shoulder presses (keep weight in front of body and don’t bend elbows more than 90°).
- Avoid extreme range of motion.
- Always rest a muscle group for 48 hours between sessions.
- Train your whole body to keep in balance.
- Attempt maximal lifts only when you have a spotter.
Common sense observations about weight room etiquette:
- Rack weights and return equipment after your set. Your mama’s not here to pick up after you.
- Wipe down benches, handles, seats, balls, mats, etc. It’s your sweat.
- It’s a weight room, not a runway or a TSA check. Spandex, short shorts, street clothes and itty-bitty, tight workout wear don’t belong here.
- You can lift heavy without grunting, growling or yelling. We know you’re working hard.
- It’s a weight room, not a phone booth. Take it outside so folks don’t have to wait on you, or listen to your conversation.
- Throwing or slamming weights down after your set is dangerous. You’re either lifting too heavy or oblivious to the danger and damage you can cause. We know you’re working hard.
- It’s a weight machine, not a place to sit and chat. Resting between sets is smart, but let other folks work their sets in while you’re resting.
- Working out with a buddy is great; working out with three or more buddies takes up a lot of equipment and space. Let’s remember to share.
- It’s a water fountain, not a spittoon. Enough said …